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That Emotional Affair Is Going To Cost You

That Emotional Affair Is Going To Cost You

Just fun and games? It doesn’t mean anything? It isn’t hurting anyone?


Just because you haven’t taken that extra-marital work relationship to “the next level” doesn’t mean it can’t have devastating consequences to your professional life and your personal life.


The challenge for individuals entering into emotional affairs is that they don’t necessarily see flirting, sharing intimate facts about themselves, and playing into the “we’re just friends” card as a big deal. The reason? Because there hasn’t been the shame of an extramarital sexual encounter (1). In other words, people are justifying why it’s ok to tote the line.  Its also why I believe we continue to see emotional affairs happen in the workplace.


There’s just one thing wrong with not seeing an emotional affair as a big deal – to those around you it is and it affects how they feel about you.


Let’s look at the what an emotional affair can cost you in the workplace:


1. Your Reputation: when you’re viewed as a wanna-be philanderer (for both guys and gals) or someone who enjoys engaging in walking the line of cheating but not cheating – you become the topic of conversation at the water cooler. Instead of people having the opportunity to look up to you as a role model and leader in the company, you’re the butt of their jokes and gossip.

2. You’re Perceived As Untrustworthy: people who cheat or act as if they do aren’t seen as individuals of integrity. Do you blame those that think that? I don’t.

3. Future Promotions: because you are perceived as untrustworthy, you may also be viewed as someone who does their job well but doesn’t make good decisions. It’s kind of like the difference between having books smarts and street smarts. Little Johnny sure is intelligent; we just can’t let him play outside. You get the point. Even though you might be great at what you do, but you have a black mark against you.

4. Your Job: sexual harassment. This is a big one. I live in the Twin Cities area and within the last few months the University of Minnesota has had to let go or place on leave some of their top leaders due to sexual harassment allegations. When someone gets into the habit of being open to emotional affairs I believe that it also opens up the door to putting you in the position of giving unwanted sexual attention to people who don’t want your special attention. You may think you’re being harmless, but you may be making someone feel very uncomfortable and scared.

Let’s look at what an emotional affair can cost you at home:

1. Your Marriage: not only is divorce expensive (national average in 2013 between $15,000 – $20,000) (2), but when you look at the mess it causes emotionally and physically you may want to think over that cheap thrill. Here are some of emotional and physical affects I have seen in clients I have worked with:

2. Your Physical Well-Being:

1. Loss/Gain of Weight: it’s interesting… In male clients I have typically I have seen weight gain, but in female clients I have typically seen weight loss. Either way, the stress caused from a breakup in someone’s marriage can have profound negative effects on the body as a person in coping with loss.

2. Loss of Sleep: stress of not knowing what to do for the future, having the feeling of failing at something a person invested so much love and time into, and financial fears all impact your ability to get a good night sleep.

3. Loss of Focus: it’s pretty challenging to stay focused and be productive when your foundation in life is crumbling underneath you. If your having huge problems at home it’s practically impossible to not bring those problems with you to work.  In a study conducted by Life Innovations they found that relationship stress caused about $300 billion annually to employers (3).

3. Your Emotional Well-Being:

1. Your Children’s Trust In You: if you think the look in your spouses eyes is bad when they find out about your little secret, just wait until your kids find out. It will be twice as painful for you to endure.

2. Years of Counseling: if you given the opportunity by your spouse or your partner the chance to be forgiven, be well aware that it will take years of you pleading your case that you’ve changed – even if you are 100% sincere. Believe me because I deal with this a lot and I see it happening a lot.

What should you do if you are finding yourself in an emotional affair or are thinking about that special someone at work?

1. Reduce Your Contact With Them: in a perfect world you would cut off all contact with this individual. However, because most extramarital affairs and emotional affairs happen in the workplace you need to be diligent about only crossing paths in work related situations and keeping everything professional.

2. Tell Your Spouse: what!?!? You may agree with me on this one or disagree with me on this. I’m ok with either. From my perspective it’s better to be ahead of the eight-ball than behind it. And, you are more likely to avoid the behavior again after you admit it to someone. You come clean, and if you’re smart, you’ll keep it that way.

If you find yourself in the position where you are quitting an emotional affair, there is a good chance that your spouse already has their suspicions about some of your behavior.

If you are attracted to someone outside of your marriage, maybe it’s time for a self-awareness check to figure out why? Why would you risk so much (emotional, physical, financial hardship) for so little? Maybe it’s time to start working at rekindling that relationship excitement that you first had when you started dating your spouse or when you were first married. Maybe it’s time to invest in a great relationship coach or counselor who can help you have some accountability in your relationship and get you and your spouse back track.

Whatever it may be, an emotional affair is definitely not your answer.

(From Zach: Please be sure to leave a comment and “Like” the article if you found it helpful. I sincerely appreciate it!)

For more questions surrounding this issue or to seek help from Zach, visit www.lovecommitsucceed.com and http://www.lovecommitsucceed.com/coaching/coaching-packages/


(1) Dave Carder and Duncan Jaenicke, Torn Asunder: Recovering From Extramarital Affairs (Chicago: Moody Press, 1992), 222-3.

(2) Laura Seldon, GalTime.com How Much Does the Average Divorce Really Cost? 07/30/2013. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/galtime/how-much-does-the-average_b_3360433.html)

(3) Turvey, Matthew, D. Olson, David H.  “Marriage & Family Wellness: Corporate America’s Business? : A Marriage CoMission Research Report.” Life Innovations, January 1, 2006.